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"Birds Know"

The ancient Markandeya Purana is written as a dialogue between the sage Markandeya and a disciple of Vyasa, called Jaimini. The text begins with telling that Jaimini asked four questions of the sage.

Markandeya replied, "Birds know, and these wise birds stay in the caves among the Vindhya Hills."

A surprised Jaimini asked again, 'It is surprising that birds have Veda knowledge, which is even rare to find among humans."

Markandeya told him the birds had been elves earlier, but then they had tried to seduce a sage, and were to be reborn as birds for it. Then, after some time a sage found four eggs and took care of them until they hatched. He fostered the chicks in his hermitage. As they got feathers and started to flow about, they also listened in to discourses on the Vedas and other texts that the sage gave to gathered disciples.

One day the birds told the sage, "Tell us what we should do, please."

He advised them to go to the Vindhya Hills, and so they did. While they stayed there, they studied the Vedas and advised seekers at times too.

When Jaimini came to them, he said, "Learned birds! Kindly listen. Sage Markandeya told me to come here and see you."

They replied, "God has many forms. And here is a story: Once a Brahmin instructed his son to study Vedas. The son laughingly said, "I know everything already."

His father got pleased and asked him many questions about life and death. The son answered,

"I was blessed with an extraordinary memory in my previous birth. That is why I remember the knowledge and virtues of previous lives.

"Those who lack solid virtues suffer great pain at the time of death, and some have to undergo scores of tortures in hell. Sinners pass through different hells and may not enjoy their imperfect future lives much - but as their actions improve, they may eventually attain a god's position."

Jaimini asked further questions, and the four wise, talking birds answered to their ability; repeating teachings of Markandeya. [Some abstract of their lessons]

The Ibis among ancient Egyptians

Toth of ancient Egyptians depicted with an Ibis head.

The deity Thoth of ancient Egyptians, was often depicted as a man with the head of an ibis. This bird was sacred to him, and the baboon too. According to Theodor Hopfner, Thoth's Egyptian name, which runs something like Djehuty (Tehuti), denotes that he possessed the attributes of the ibis. His name means "He who is like the ibis".

Thoth has been depicted in many ways. Usually, he is depicted in his human form with the head of an ibis. In this form, he can be represented as the reckoner of times and seasons. Sometimes he was depicted wearing the Atef crown or the United Crowns of Upper and Lower Egypt. When not depicted in this common form, he sometimes takes the form of the ibis directly. He also appears as a dog faced baboon or a man with the head of a baboon when he is A'an, the god of equilibrium. In the form of A'ah-Djehuty he took a more human-looking form. These forms are symbolic and metaphoric. The Egyptians did not believe gods actually looked like humans with animal heads.

Thoth (also Thot) is a Greek version from the letters dhwty. Hellenic Greeks interpreted him to be their god Hermes because of similar attributes and functions. In Egyptian mythology, he played many vital and prominent roles in maintaining the universe. He was often considered as the heart, that is, the seat of intelligence or the mind. He was also thought of as the tongue of the sun god Ra. Thoth also became associated with the arts of magic, writing, science, and more. He came to be seen as god of wisdom, magic, measurement, regulation, of events, of time.

His roles in Egyptian mythology were many, and he had many shrines in his honour. The ancient Egyptians regarded Thoth as One, self-begotten, and self-produced. He was the master of both physical and moral law. His is feminine counterpart, Ma'at was the force which maintained the Universe. Without his words, the Egyptians believed, the gods would not exist. The Egyptians credited him as the author of all works of science, religion, philosophy, and magic. He was also credited with creating the 365 day calendar. Thoth could also heal and resurrect.

In one ancient myth an egg was laid upon the Milky Way by a cosmic goose, a celestial bird. The egg contained Ra, the sun god. After the rise of the cult of Thoth, the egg was said to have been a gift from Thoth, and laid by an ibis, the bird with which he was associated. [More]

Among ancient Egyptians, Thoth was also known by specific sides to himself, such as "god father". One of Thoth's titles, "Three times great, great" was translated to the Greek Trismegistos, making Hermes Trismegistus. The Greeks also declared him the inventor of such as geometry, botany, and oratory. He was related to the Logos of Plato and the mind of God.

The goose in ancient Hinduism

Hamsa emblem

Hamsa means goose, swan, flamingo and spiritual teacher in Sanskrit. But it means more too, such as mountain; unambitious monarch; a kind of ascetic; silver; excellent draught-ox; man of supernatural qualities born under a particular constellation; to act or behave like a swan; horse; temple of a particular form; one of the vital airs; kind of mantra or mystical text; soul or spirit. (Sanskrit Dictionary for Spoken Sanskrit).

Some sorts of ducks and geese are rather similar. The duck may be counted as a sacred hamsa bird too, the Sanskrit scholar Frederick Pargiter says. Hamsa "means any kind of goose or duck", he tells (Pargiter 1904, 30n). A duck is a very friendly bird, and little children may love to hear and see them in a pond, a lake and a river and nearby. F. Pargiter includes the duck. .

Anyway, the hamsa (either goose or swan or both) is a sacred bird in Hinduism, and associated with remarkable persons, soul and spirit. There is an ancient text called the Hamsa Upanishad too.

The emblem of the Ramakrishna Order (the illustration) was designed by Swami Vivekananda while in an exalted mood. It expresses what he wanted everyone to be. The goal of life is to realize one's real Self and be spiritually free. The emblem contains wavy waters, a lotus, a rising sun, an encircling serpent of awakened yogi power, and the bird.

Thus, in yoga the swan (goose) is at the centre of it all.

The winged sun of ancient Egypt

Winged sun
Winged sun, ancient Egyptian symbol of divine might and much else. It is known from ca. 2600 BCE.

In Ancient Egypt the winged sun is a symbol from at least the Old Kingdom (Sneferu, 26th century BCE). It is a stylized bird pattern called the spread-eagle. The sun is often flanked on either side with a uraeus (serpent). The winged sun is symbolic of the eternal soul, and has served as a reminder to people of their eternal nature. The symbol bears similarity to what we get if we combine the Great Cackler (cosmic goose) and the sun in Vivekananda's illustration, with a flanking snake.

Among the treasures found in the grave of King Tutankhamun is a figure with a bird's body and human head, and with hieroglyphs between his legs. In ancient Egypt the winged sun also represented the divine king, Pharaoh.

From roughly 2000 BCE, the Egyptian symbol spread to other countries, although with several transmutations. It appears in reliefs with Assyrian rulers as a symbol for royalty - literally, "his own self, the Sun". The symbol also evolved into the Faravahar (farohar, the "visual aspect of Ahura Mazda") in Zoroastrian Persia.

FAROHAR, farahavar
Farohar, farahavar

Several interpretations of the spread-eagle that takes the shape of a flying man are possible. The flying man may symbolise the meditator who rises on wings of meditation, for example.

In Mazdaism (Zoroastrism), the Farohar is a flying bird seen from the side, with spread wings, tails and extended feet. The symbol serves to capture or illustrate that the soul has to balance between good and evil, with a tail with three levels. They are good thoughts, good words and good deeds.

The circle in the center of the figure stands for the soul or the spiritual side of our entire system - the individual - many powers to cultivate and develop, for example by what Carl G. Jung (1875-1961) terms individuation.

Progress of the two-winged entity called soul, individual, and so on, demands certain regulations. Use the laws of nature to your benefit, and steer mental and spiritual development. The good fight include in particular to live in assonace with your inner Life-giver every day if you can; not just on festivals. [Surti 4]

There are more than two powers to influence on us; not only yin and yang and the tao. Tao (way) is the harmonic balance and harmonious hot contrast between yin (the female, dark, etc.) and yang (the male, light, etc.) (Waley). In ancient Egyptian thought and Zoroastrianism there is evil to deal with too, for example.

[Source: WP, "Winged sun"]


Can humans fly without wings and technical aids? Study the evidence before fixing your opinion in the matter. [More]

A Flying Human

In Tibetan Buddhism the famous Milarepa was observed flying in a sitting position. I like him. You can read material I have gathered about him here. [More] [Milarepa counsels]


Birds omens, self-knowledge, Literature  

Pargiter, Frederick Eden, tr. 1904. Markandeya Purana. Calcutta: The Asiatic Society.

Surti, B. 1981. Thus Spake Zarathushtra. 2nd ed. Madras: Ramakrishna Math.

Waley, Arthur, tr. 1958. The Way and Its Power. A Study of the Tao the Ching and Its Place in Chinese Thought. New York: Evergreen/Grove.

Harvesting the hay

Symbols, brackets, signs and text icons explained: (1) Text markers(2) Digesting.

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